In a division rivalry matchup, the Montreal Canadiens took to the Bell Centre ice to face off against the Ottawa Senators after two days off, looking for a win during their 20th game of the season.
Though much noise had been made over the last couple of days about Torrey Mitchell centering Max Pacioretty and Andrew Shaw, the Canadiens’ captain began the evening with two very familiar linemates, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec.
The first frame started out with subdued action at both ends of the ice, as each team felt the other out, but Mark Borowiecki’s cross check on Gallagher in front of the Montreal bench would send the Habs to their first powerplay before four minutes could expire. But as the Canadiens had difficulties getting set up off the draw in the offensive zone and would need to clear and re-enter the zone, Alex Galchenyuk’s stick in Zack Smith’s skates cut their man-advantage short just 60 seconds in.
With man-advantages and scoring chances aplenty, the pace of the game began to pick up speed around the midway point of the first as adrenaline and emotions ran high. After Andrew Shaw and Chris Neil flew into the boards and exchanged pleasantries, the gloves quickly, and perhaps predictably, dropped to the ice. Though Shaw and Neil both managed a couple of jabs on the other, they mainly tangoed awkwardly all the way out to centre ice, where they’d eventually be broken up and sent packing for seven minutes apiece.
The Canadiens came flying out of the gates in the second, quickly gaining possession in the offensive zone. Markov teed up Shea Weber who stood waiting for his opportunity, and he made no mistake in blasting one past Anderson.
But they weren’t yet finished. Much like the first, the second period was riddled with penalties, and Montreal found themselves with the man-advantage shortly after banking their first goal. The Habs were unsuccessful on this attempt, but received a number of good looks from Gallagher and Pacioretty. Again, much like in the first, Kyle Turris came in all alone on Price as he was released from the sin bin, who made the stick save to (briefly) maintain the Habs’ lead.
A Byron hook on Borowiecki a few moments later, and the Senators would even the playing field when Mike Hoffman fired the puck from down on one knee at the wing on his second attempt, giving the Ottawa the swing they needed to get back into the game. This was most definitely a game of equal opportunity, as Alex Radulov danced around the Ottawa D at the other end of the ice and would swing across the front of the net and throw the puck behind Craig Anderson to regain the Habs’ lead.
It was a glorious goal
After another unsuccessful (but not uneventful) powerplay attempt for the Canadiens, Nathan Beaulieu went down on a play where the puck deflected off his stick and to his neck. Beaulieu would struggle make his way off the ice and would not return for the remainder of the game, being escorted via ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
Back in the Canadiens zone, Hoffman dangled his way past the Tricolore’s defense to swing a shot toward Price and his rebounded was swatted at by Brassard, whose attempts were ruled a good goal following a TV timeout to review the play. And just like that, we had a tie game once again!
The waning minutes of the second frame ticked away like much of the first; end to end action that would result in puck covering and net-front scrums on both Price and Anderson’s behalf. Chris Neil earned himself two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct in the dying minutes of the period, but the Habs would not be able to convert before time expired.
The Canadiens failed to get anything going with less than 10 seconds of the powerplay remaining in the opening of the third period, but they wouldn’t need to worry for too long, as Erik Karlsson would be sent to the box on a tripping call just 58 seconds into the period. Radulov sent a cross-ice pass to Galchenyuk, whose rocket of a shot was stopped by Anderson, but when the Canadiens regained the puck off the rebound and Radulov eventually served Chucky an almost identical pass, #27 would make no mistake for his 8th of the season, giving his team the lead early in the third.
A story of short-lived victories, the Senators went on to tie the game up yet again just over a minute later when a centered pass from Hoffman to Stone zipped by Price, with three of his teammates behind the goal line and well behind the play. Two minutes later, Karlsson gave his team the go-ahead goal when a soft shot from the boards snuck by the leg of Price, who was screened on the shot by Pageau and Petry.
The remainder of the game would be spent at both ends of the ice with several dangerous chances put up against each goaltender, but they’d both remain solid. Despite a valiant push from Montreal’s rolling lines, their 6-on-5 attempt wasn’t enough to tie things up for overtime as a last second hammer shot from Weber was fired wide, and time expired before they could make a move on the rebound. Pacioretty and Dion Phaneuf came together in a bit of a tussle, but in the end, Ottawa skated away with the win handing Montreal their first regulation loss on home ice, and Price’s first regulation loss of the year.
Final score: 4-3 Senators
- Though goals and penalties were exchanged back and forth for the entire game, the Canadiens never really sat back on a lead or stopped pressing. They kept coming shift after shit, regardless of the score.
- Joel Hanley didn’t get very much ice time before Beaulieu’s injury, but you also need to consider the fact that the Canadiens were on the powerplay or penalty kill every few minutes in those first two periods — both special teams where he may not see a whole lot of action.
- Despite post-practice interviews, it seems like Pacioretty is slipping back into his skin. He was all over the ice last night, and looked particularly dangerous with linemate Gallagher. Both were relentless and both came within a few inches of a goal on more than one occasion. Gallagher is frustrated, but if he continues to put in this level of effort, the goals will certainly come.
The Canadiens will skate on home ice once again to square off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, who will roll into town 5-0 in their last five games, including a 3-2 win over the Habs last week. This will mark the final home game before they embark on a five game Western Conference road trip.